Who Got Me Through College

It isn’t often that I feel compelled to write an article. Even less so about someone that I admire. Even further about the death of this person. If you are at all involved in the food world, you probably already know who I’m talking about. The man, the myth, the legend, Anthony Bourdain. Though he would probably punch me right in the nose if he overheard me call him that way. For those of you who don’t know of Tony, he was an icon in the food and travel industries. It was actually only very recently that I learned that her was also an incredibly gifted author, with more than a dozen books, ranging from cookbooks to memoirs, under his belt. Now, if you were to see me in person, you would no doubt believe me when I say that I LOVE food. I love everything about food, from the flavors, the smell, actually preparing and cooking it, just food speaks to my soul the same way that religion does for others. I wasn’t always this way though. Granted, I’ve always been a rather large, heavy individual, but my love affair with food didn’t really begin until I was in college. Before then, food was just simply something I put in my mouth three times a day. Of course, I was taught how to cook by my parents, and my grandmother, who were all above average cooks, in my opinion. Though I didn’t really enjoy cooking then, as I do now. Cooking used to be a chore for me, just like cleaning the bathroom, or taking out the trash. Now, I view cooking as an art form, a wonderful hobby, and a very fulfilling pastime. I would never make it as a cook in a restaurant though, I don’t like to cook fast, I prefer to cook at whatever pace the food takes. Also, there is a very large difference between doing something you love as a hobby, then as a profession.

I was a college freshman living in the dorms of a rather pricey school in the fall of 2012. My first roommate was not ready for college life, as he immediately went home the second day, and never returned. So, I was alone in my room, built for two people, with two beds, for roughly half of my freshman year. Given that I was still horribly depressed, and incredibly anxious around new people, I locked myself in my dorm for about the first two weeks, and did nothing but watch anime. It wasn’t until I opened my door, and began interacting with the other people in my “hall” that I really began to open up and enjoy being at college. I don’t really even remember why I opened my door for the first time, or how I met all the people on my floor, but I did…somehow. This is how I met one of my best friends, we will just call J for now. J and I really meshed marvelously well, and quickly became great friends. It was shortly after this that we began drinking, as most college students do, and really getting to know the various people living around me. As you all (hopefully) know, I am an alcoholic, and it was during this time in college that this developed and really brought me down. I also was failing to properly deal with my depression, further leading to more alcohol abuse.

I think it was the next year that J and I moved in to the same building, again, but this time by choice. Quick side note, J has a twin brother, so he would room with him, which is why we didn’t room together. Although, it seems that I got lucky again, as my roommate for my sophomore year never showed up, and I had the room to myself, again, this time for the entire year. We also discovered that our “neighbor” was 21, so we basically had easy access to alcohol so long as we let our neighbor in on the drinking. It was because of this, that my room became the party spot for nearly the entire building. I always had alcohol, and I never had to worry about a roommate, or my neighbors. It was during this year, that I honestly don’t remember much of, J and I became inseparable friends. It was also during this year, that J introduced me to a show on Netflix, Parts Unknown. This is where I fell in (professional) love with Tony. His voice was unlike anything I have ever heard in real life (not anime). It was unbelievably stern, comforting, and informative. Watching him travel the world, eat such appetizing food, then give an honest review, was the shining light in my world during those years. Whenever J and I were really drunk, or hungry and broke, we would watch Parts Unknown, and it was almost as if we were there sitting next to Tony, and we weren’t hungry anymore. It made me dive into the culinary world at home, trying various “exotic” recipes with spices and  I have never used before. It was so exhilarating. J and I would almost daily watch Parts Unknown, all the different episodes and locations, it was our favorite show! I still thoroughly enjoy Parts Unknown, and all of Tony’s other shows. I will admit though, I have still to read his (best-selling) book(s), as I am not much of a reader.

Just hearing Tony’s voice, or seeing that silver hair, or that wrinkled and worn face, would instantly put me at ease. It can eliminate my anxiety in the split second I saw or heard him. However, I can’t watch him like I used to, as it was normally associated with alcohol use. As you can imagine, when news of Tony’s death completely rocked my world. Especially since he died by suicide, I was incredibly disheartened. My idol, the man whom, although I have never met, I felt an extreme bond with, took his own life because he couldn’t do it anymore. As I’ve said on Twitter, when my feelings get too real, is when I lose control of what is really going on. It is safe to say that I “lost it” when I heard that he passed away. Even to this day, it still hurts whenever I see him, or even hear about him. I mean the whole reason I’m even writing this article is because someone is releasing a book about him in the near future, one of his close friends. I had to hold in my tears, because I am at work, in front of my coworkers, which would get a little bit awkward if I started bawling my eyes out.

If you have anyone that you revere like I do, I’d love to hear about it. Especially if they got you through some rather difficult times in your life, like Tony did mine. Anyways, I think I’ve sufficiently whined enough, so from my mind to yours, Alan Wolfgang, signing off.

One Comment Add yours

  1. mandy says:

    With the pain so many of us felt at Anthony’s death, I’m sure it pales in comparison to the pain you feel. He impacted so many lives even though he was drowning in his struggles. Thank you for sharing your story.


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